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What is preservation ?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by zigzag, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

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    I am very optimistic for this side of railway preservation. Whilst we (preservationists collectively) still have big issues with rolling stock storage etc, I have noticed that over the past 10 years that I have been involved there has been an increasing number of projects around the UK aimed at sustainability of rolling stock, firstly of locomotives but later "tricking down" to carriages. The best examples of this are the many carriage sheds that have sprung up, which as we all know will keep carriages going (in the bodywork dept) many times longer than when they're stood outside. We're even starting to see accommodation for "stored" rolling stock (engine house, IOWSR etc) which previously was very rare.

    Whilst we have undoubtedly got a long way to go (the mission will never be finished!) I do believe that we will one day see wagon sheds for example, an idea that was once (and perhaps still is) considered crazy. The point I'm trying to make is if some railways continue go in this direction more favoured by bus/tram museums (where 100% of the collection is housed undercover) then outside places such as goods yards will hopefully one day be empty enough to fulfil their "true" preservation role, with a wagon here, a wagon there. It is nice to see a line which can "hide" their four rakes of Mk1's (essential for those gala/Thomas days) in a nice dry carriage shed at one end of the line while the rest of the railway can then recreate the classic sleepy branch line.

    Although as an enthusiast I like to be able to see as much as I can when I visit (including rotters!), being involved in preservation I'd rather know they were tucked away in a dry shed better protected.
     
  2. frazoulaswak

    frazoulaswak Well-Known Member

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    Have any of the lines lucky enough to have tunnels originally built for double track somewhere along their length considered using them for rolling stock storage? Yes, I appreciate that the damaging effect of fumes from passing trains might might become an issue, but would that be greater than the effects of the British weather?

    Cheers,
    Mick
     
  3. 5944

    5944 Part of the furniture

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    The Nene Valley use Wansford tunnel for storage, of both rolling stock and the occasional loco.
     
  4. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

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    I believe the Churnet Valley entertained the idea many years ago, but it never got beyond the drawing board because the area in which the tunnel is located suffers from trespassers so no stock is ever left unattended in the area. As the tunnel is also on the operating line, it couldn't be made secure enough to store stock in whilst still remaining "open" for running trains.
     
  5. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

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    I also believe the Lakeside & Haverthwaite have two small double track tunnels which regularly see stabled stock.
     
  6. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    The stock stored in Wansford tunnel does suffer very badly from the double effects of the fumes and the water constantly seeping through the tunnel lining onto the stock.
     
  7. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Sharpthorne tunnel is 750-odd yards long, so would take the equivalent of about 35 Mark 1s - rather more vintage carriages. Sadly it is also soaking wet, so I don't think they would last long if we did put them there!

    Tom
     
  8. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR New Member

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    This became, very disappointingly, sidetracked into tunnel storage (getting into pun territory). Can we please discuss the issue? I believe that many schemes have 'lost the plot'. Some are really 'boys' toys' efforts and those will either collapse with the physical demise of the present practitioners or become some sort of pure fairground attraction, taken over by businessmen. Who do we give the 'preservation prize' to and who the 'wooden spoon'?

    If naming names is not wished for (very understandable) what are the factors - LWR? Huge car parks? Picnic Areas? Daft events? (actually, as these are temporary, I think it would be a spoil-sport who objected to such).

    It's a fine line (oh dear, at it again) but I think we all know where I am going with this.
     
  9. Steve B

    Steve B Member

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    As I mentioned earlier in this thread, there is thankfully a wide variety amongst what are loosely called preserved railways.

    You have some like the Bluebell and Severn Valley (amongst many others) that aim to recreate as far as is possible something from the past, with the inevitable compromises that that produces. Some do it remarkably well. So what if there are locos and coaches that didn't belong there in the past? They've been saved and are looked after. Pacifics running tender first down a branch line with a handful of coaches seem to me to be rather incongruous, but where else would you run them if not on the main line, and those opportunities are limited.

    Then there are other railways that are less concerned with "authenticity" and more concerned with having a railway that is of interest to the enthusiast, whilst being an attraction to the wider public. The Foxfield and Chasewater lines spring to my mind here. They can never be perfectly true to their origins, but can none the less provide a very enjoyable home to some of our otherwise neglected industrial heritage.

    It is on the narrow gauge that I find some of the more fascinating variety. Look at the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. Here you have railways that show a continued sort of development. Whilst some decry the Ffestiniog's rebuilds of historic locos the process perpetuates what the historic companies tended to do. They rebuilt locos, made them better or more economic, changed them to meet new needs. In a way, the Ffestiniog has preserved that aspect of railway life. They also have been working at recreating something of their heritage stock - it's a bit like having preserved stuff working on the modern mainline!

    Also on the narrow gauge you've got some railways that seem to cater mainly for the wider public. During my time living in North Wales, whilst my interests were very much around the likes of the Ffestiniog, Tal-y-Llyn, and Welshpool and Llanfair, if I was going to take my small kids anywhere it would be the Llanberis Lake Railway - real steam engines, long enough for a decent ride, short enough not to bore the kids, and small enough not to frighten them.

    What bothers me (and here I wont mention names - I'm sure that many will be able to identify some) are those railways that you are left wondering "why?" (or "what on earth?"). I have no problem with folk who want to run their own railway - the big boys toys approach. But I am concerned that some acquire equipment, and then have no real way of looking after it, or maintaining it, or even using it. One scheme that I know of has big ambitions, but is around 20 miles from an established line in one direction , and 30 in another. Both of which are much better situated, and established. I think "why?" Another has been running a public service recently for the first time. Advertising? - not that I've been able to find.

    Others seem to struggle on, and moan that they lack support. A few years ago I found myself looking at the possibility of volunteering again on a railway. I had some spare time, and thought that it would be good to put something back into a hobby I've enjoyed for years. I looked at a couple of the more local lines - one was being torn apart by internal divisions, and the other I was faced by such rudeness towards me as a member of the public visiting that I decided I could do without the stress. I get enough of that at work. Needless to say, neither line is flourishing.

    Nowadays I don't have the time or money to do much more than make occasional visits to lines that I CAN enjoy and appreciate.

    Preservation is a big mixture - some will survive, others may not, some don't really deserve to.

    Steve B
     
  10. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    Making a fairly sweeping generalisation, I think that the biggest issue facing preserved railways is not the preservation of artifacts, but their interpretation, explanation and contextualisation. We tend to do rather a poor job of these things compared to say the Weal and Downland Museum, Blists Hill or other "living history" centres. I have always felt this is rather a pity because many railways actually have the equipment and the operation, and the people to provide some of the best background to their "living history" of all.

    Many people simply want a day out, which is what we offer, but I don't suppose that info boards, audio tours etc etc for those that want to use them would detract from the experience of those that don't. I suppose the reason why more of this context has not been applied is because the prime customer of preserved lines is the volunteers, the individuals that buy the equipment, restore and operate it. We don't need the intepretation, and faced with spending tens of thousands of £s to produce an audio tour, I'm guessing the next boiler overhaul will have always taken precedence.

    The more mature railways (meaning the ones that have been around longer) have in recent years started to invest in "museum" stuff. I like the facility at Sheff Park very much, and it will be greater still when finished. Takes a while to get to the point where you can afford financially or "politically" to do such things though.

    Ownership is another issue that slows down "preservation". Individuals don't always make the best custodians. In addition it is hard to have a loco strategy when you don't own any of the locomotives for example.
     
  11. Bramblewick

    Bramblewick New Member

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    I remember reading an interview with Bob Symes in a mid-80s issue of 'Railway World' in which he said that the plan had been to use German Cl.52s as motive power. Contemporary reports suggest that the BUR had been planning to standardise on Thompson coaches. So it would definitely have been distinctive.
     
  12. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    What a pity that the BUR didn't happen - those Kriegsloks are the salt of the earth! Plus some of those then common DB 6 wheel coaches, I'd have been up there every weekend from Leeds where I was living at that time.
     
  13. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR New Member

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    A very astute observation. I suspect that funding for projects from (e.g.) HLF would be more forthcoming if they always incorporated such interpretation and educational facilities.

    I recognised Steve's comments on the reality of the 'welcoming' of budding volunteers -did it not sound a sadly familiar ring. Some are better than others and the Bluebell does seem to approach that subject very effectively with its open days for aspirants.

    To re-open an entire railway is really surely restoration rather than preservation? Lines in this category or bordering on it like Carlisle to Edinburgh (forgive pun) are e.g. the Swanage, which could serve a very useful commuter function to the Bournemouth and Southampton conurbations and already acts as a park and ride for that seaside town.

    Another could perhaps be the WSR but its extraordinary history (involving IIRC at one stage disgruntled NUR-member bus drivers!!) seems doomed never to fulfil either function. I expect there are other factors in that case I know not what of, but commuting services to Taunton and Bristol would seem to be a no-brainer. If the line had not been closed, it would not be now, anymore than Yeovil to Weymouth could be.

    The Swanage seems to be able to interface with the modern world very successfully. In the long run I would not rule out the Bluebell managing this adaptation in both north and south directions.

    However, for museum type presentation, it seems to me that Tyseley, Didcot, Shildon, etc are more appropriate with the large engines and perhaps cinematic, modelling and interactive presentations of the grime and filth of the steam age of railways is the way to go. Large facilities like these are surely inappropriate in a rural setting?

    These issues are very topical on the SVR at present (see other thread on Bridgnorth share issue plans).

    One other point; it is noticeable that lines near urbanity do suffer disproportionately from vandalism. Perhaps this would be a good reason for keeping priceless artefacts locked away in a 'museum' environment.
     
  14. andrewtoplis

    andrewtoplis Member

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    I would like to pick up on this bit, which I feel is completely wrong (no offence meant 21B). The prime customer for steam railways is NOT the enthusiast market, it is the families with young children who come to see a steam engine. In short - the public. Enthusiasts make up the majority at gala days and certain events, but one railway chairman said to me that they are actually a tiny percentage of the overall (even less on lines in more tourist areas). On Natpres we often forget this, but in some ways it shows that the market has moved on. Initially in the '60s and '70s perhaps people who liked steam trains probably did make up a much larger chunk but this has declined and the railways have had to diversify into things like Thomas days and war weekends. So I think time has moved on and things changed. Initially preservation was about saving things that were literally being destroyed. If people had not saved engines from Barry Island they would have, sooner or later, been cut up. This was 'preservation'. But all of the Barry engines have been saved, so what do we do now? We move on to what we might call 're-creation', and that will have to have compromises due to the resources we have left, the amount of money, volunteers and time etc available.

    Even the best lines have to work within their constraints. I volunteer for the IOWSR and we are really lucky to have a collection of engines, stock and buildings that have a genuine link to the local area. But we still need a number of non-island things to enable us to run the service we would like to. Is this preservation, or should we look to get rid of them and only use what is 'correct', in which case we would have to cut the service back and would likely go bust! What would happen then? And what about the big shed being built to better preserve the artifacts from the elements...that was never there in the period we are trying to re-create, but it helps our preservation? Oh and which period, BR, the SR or even earlier? Should we have all three, and can they be next to each other?

    Its all a big balance and sometimes I am very glad to be a small fry within it who does not have to make these decisions!

    Just to end...if people want a true 'preserved' railway (one that is as near to 'how it was in the old days' as possible), where would they go? The only place that comes to my mind is the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch!
     
  15. oliversbest

    oliversbest New Member

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    Thoroughly agree with your observations, particularly re. Swanage. Is it not way past time that the
    Swanage Railway established some sort of presence at Wareham..an exhibition coach? A Birds Nest Buffet something to indicate that after forty years the aims of the pioneers of the SRP are going to be brought to fruition. Understanding that only a limited number of charters are presently allowed could not a"bucket and spade" heritage diesel unit run several saturdays or sundays in the summer from ,say, Basingstoke.
    Before closure Swanage was just such a weekend destination.
    I notice that East Grinstead is already anticipating the boost to its tourist business with the re-connection of the Bluebell to the National network and could the reconnection of the Ardingly branch
    also have some mainline implications
     
  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Large car parks? Well, if we have 1500 visitors turn up, they have to go somewhere. Daft events? They pay for the preservation "goodies". So rightly or wrongly, they - along with gift shops, restaurants, picnic areas - are an inevitable part of running a modern attraction. And whereas an attraction like the Weald and Downland Museum can largely site those facilities well away from its "heritage core", the compact nature of a typical railway station means to a greater or less extent they will intrude - which was the point I made in my first post in the thread about the built infrastructure being where the real pressures on "heritage vs commercialism" really occurs.

    For me, the key attribute is whether the line has a clear heritage strategy, and how it sticks to it. Take one of the best lines (IMO), the IoWSR. For rolling stock, they have only one carriage that doesn't have an Island pedigree, and steadily they are building a loco fleet of similar pedigree. Visit on a day when the service engines are Calbourne and Freshwater, and it is easy to imagine yourself transported back to the Island in the 1930s / 1950s. Whereas even lines like the Bluebell or the SVR can do a decent job of recreation for photographic purposes, but if they ran services that were truly authentic, they'd be out of business (LBSC C2x and single birdcage brake, anyone? :smile:)

    Not all lines can get as close to authenticity as the IoWSR, but having a heritage element embedded as a core part of your strategy is vital for a line that wants to have a purpose beyond "playing trains". For example, as I've mentioned before: we try to have a progression in period from LBSC to late BR(S) as you progress from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead. It is not perfect yet, but does at least mean that there is a definite yardstick when considering development at each site. Having such a strategy also helps with aquisition policy. For example, every now and again, grounded carriage bodies become available. Rather than bid for anything that comes up, we have a clear strategy of which trains we would like to recreate, and therefore which vehicles are missing from that collection. Does that mean we turn down vehicles that are available because they don't fit our objectives? Probably, and maybe they are broken up as a result, if there is no other interest. But we can't preserve everything, and just hoarding grounded bodies is ultimately no guarantee they will get restored. Better to let some go and hope that some other group is interested in them - afterall, there are more than enough grounded bodies out there for every railway to have a fleet if they wanted!

    An even clearer demonstration of that is our wagon strategy. We have identified 9 types of wagon missing from our current collection that we feel would have a preservation value in being able to enhance our collection and our ability to tell the story of railway freight operations across the periods we seek to preserve (pre-grouping, grouping, steam-era BR). Some of those wagons we may now struggle ever to obtain (especially a cattle wagon, and a wooden-bodied PO wagon) but the very fact of identifying them as a core acquisition target means that we don't just acquire wagons willy-nilly that ultimately don't fit the collection. This also works the other way: three or four years ago, we disposed of a GWR tool van - that had arrived on the railway in the mid 1970s - to another more GW-focused group that was in a better position to give the vehicle the attention it deserved.

    Tom
     
  17. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Ah! I always said a C2x is what the Bluebell needs as a newbuild and not a blasted H2.

    (With apologies)

    Paul
     
  18. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Paul - quick, the proliferation thread needs you!

    Tom (also with apologies!)
     
  19. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Don't worry, I have been keeping my eye on it!

    Paul
     
  20. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    No offence taken, but I don't believe I am wrong. I completely agree that Enthusiasts are NOT the prime market, but then what I said was that volunteers were the prime market. Let me explain. I think that a fair segmentation of the market would be this:

    Grandparents .... taking the "small people" on a ride "like we used to have"
    Families .... let's have a day out (with or without any quasi educational objective)
    Chin waggers .... friends of all ages who "want something to do" while they chat to their friends
    Eat somewhere different ..... Real Ale, fish + chip, Pullman dining or whatever
    Enthusiasts .... lets travel behind as much as possible and count rivets, take pictures etc...
    Donators .... give / leave legacy etc
    Volunteers .... people who want to be practically involved in the railway in whatever way

    We can all be any and all of these at different times and places. The first 5 segments contribute through ticket sales etc and THEY are what most people think about when thinking about market. Those 5 segments (and you could add others if you wanted, like school parties and groups) are though only part of the market, and my view is we need to take into account the other two as well.

    The reason I say that volunteers (I chose my word deliberately) are the prime market, is that of all the segments above they are the only one which preserved railways cannot function without.

    The enthusiast market only has importance in three respects 1) The things they like to see (Galas etc) are the things the volunteers quite enjoy putting on (and we need to keep the volunteers happy, so getting enthusiasts to fund what the volunteers enjoy is a win-win) 2) They are one potential source of new volunteers, though not the best one in my experience 3) They are a source of future donators (very important)
     

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